Hunter Gatherer Research

Why would southern African hunters be reluctant food producers?

Hunter Gatherer Research (2017), 2, (4), 415–435.

Abstract

The debate on how food production first began in southern Africa still continues, with new genetic evidence suggesting that it moved southwards from east Africa, showing connections in both human DNA and lactase persistence genes. This paper outlines the difficulties hunters might have faced in adopting herding, and asks whether a simple access model would be adequate to explain such an important event. A comparison between the different world views of hunters and herders is offered. For hunters, meat is the primary objective, and relations with prey species are important for success. Herders, by contrast, prefer to maximize milk production, and take responsibility for their stock to achieve this. Considering the sizeable number of animals needed for sustainable herd maintenance, off-take, etc, such responsibility would perhaps suggest that successful husbandry was beyond casual adoption of domestic animals by southern African hunters, particularly when there was no shortage of wild game and fish available.

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Smith, Andrew B